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3 Lake Tahoe Itineraries to Help you Plan Your Next Trip

Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite spots on this Earth. We love it so much that we bought a couple of cabins out here :) Seriously though, nothing beats the raw natural beauty and local attractions you can experience in this wonderful part of the world.

With so much to see and so little time, zeroing in on an itinerary can be a real struggle. So, I thought it would be helpful to approach this from a variety of itinerary options to help you plan your trip to Lake Tahoe. Each itinerary focuses on a separate area of the Lake and surrounding areas. You choose what you want to explore!

Itinerary 1 - Explore the West Shore by our Cabin

Kickoff your morning at Where We Met coffee shop. This is a lovely little cafe in “downtown Tahoma” right around the corner from the cabin on the corner of Pine and the 89. They have a great selection of fun and inventive espresso drinks to get your day going (Note: They close in late November and do not open back up until the Spring).

Stop at the Tahoma Market and order a sandwich to go for your picnic. These sandwiches are incredible. They use high quality Boors Head ingredients and bake their own bread daily. The portions are ridiculously large and a sandwich can easily be shared.

Head to Emerald Bay State Park! Take a walk and take in the views (Note: This area can get incredibly busy in the Summer season. We advise getting an early start).

After your walk, walk a mile down to the Vikingsholm, which is a castle right on the lake! (open for tours June-September, but you can admire the castle from the outside year round).

If you are up for an adventure, while you’re down by the water, you can rent Kayaks there. Kayak Tahoe has a location right by Vikingsholm. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a nice late morning on the water that may just be the highlight of your trip.

If you decide to kayak, you’ll definitely want to kayak out to Fannette Island, which is the island you see from up top. You can walk up to the old teahouse - this would be a great spot to enjoy your picnic sandwich from Tahoma Market with an incredible view!

Once you get back to shore, walk to Lower Eagle Falls from Vikingsholm. It’s about a 0.2 mile hike! You can spend the rest of the afternoon hiking to Eagle Lake.The hike is about 1.8 miles, which takes you by upper Eagle Falls and also has great views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Once arriving at Eagle Lake, you can enjoy the view from the area you walk up to, or you can walk around the lake for a quieter experience.

For dinner, head to West Shore Cafe for a lakeside dinner with the most magnificent views. Another option for dinner is the Dog & Bear Tavern. This is a new restaurant that offers the perfect balance of modern rustic and cozy local outpost. It is walking distance from the cabin.


Itinerary 2 - Explore the East and North shore

Start your morning with coffee at Drink Coffee and Do Stuff. This is a specialty coffee company ‘built with the belief that extraordinary coffee leads to an extraordinary life.” We agree and highly recommend this spot.

Make reservations ahead of time and head to Brunch at Sage Leaf Tahoe. They focus on unique, creative, and seasonal offerings and somehow manage to be healthy and comforting at the same time.

After brunching, spend the Day working off those calories by exploring some of the most beautiful beaches in Tahoe:

Sand Harbor is a beautiful, small state park with a huge beach and gorgeous mesmerizing water. It costs $10 to enter, but it’s totally worth it. While at Sand Harbor you can lay on the beach, walk around, and soak up the views of the incredibly clear water and mountains or if you are up for it, you can also kayak to Bonsai Rock from here!

Chimney Beach is a little less busy. Keep in mind that It does require a quick 0.5 mile walk from the parking area to the beach.While you’re by Chimney Beach, make sure to check out Secret Cove. You can park in the same area as Chimney Beach and after parking, take a well marked trail south and look for signs that will tell you when to turn to go to the water. The walk is about 10 minutes and it is one of our favorite coves. So stunning!

Watch the sunset along the new East Shore Trail! This trail was a big feat for the East Shore, as it now gives people access to beaches and areas of the shore that were inaccessible before. This is a lovely trail as you can see all the views from Incline Village to Sand Harbor, which is about 1.5 miles one way.

Lastly, head into Incline Village for dinner! Hands down, my favorite restaurant in all of Lake Tahoe is Bite American Tapas. This restaurant has amazing cocktails and small plates that are mouth watering. I’ve never had a bad meal here and I’ve had many many many meals here. The quality is top notch and consistent. Well worth the drive to Incline!


Itinerary 3 - Explore the town of Truckee

Truckee is full of great places to eat, beautiful views, and unique attractions, making it definitely worth a stop during your Lake Tahoe adventure! It’s not technically “Lake Tahoe” but it’s a gem and shouldn’t be missed!

Enjoy breakfast in Truckee at Squeeze In! They have a great selection of omelettes but the Jack Johnson Banana Walnut Pancakes is the real show stopper!

Head to Coffeebar for some coffee on their patio! They also have amazing small bites, pastries and treats. While you’re in town, grab some lunch items for a picnic later on in the day.

Drive up Donner Pass, which has great lake and mountain views and stop at the Rainbow Bridge to enjoy them! If you don’t know the story of The Donner Party, you should. They were a group of Pioneers who migrated to California in 1846 and got trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains run Truckee during the dead of winter. Let’s just say things go weird …you can read the full story here. It’s definitely an interesting piece of history. Donner Pass, as well as the tunnels, lake, and state park mentioned below, were named after the Donner Party.

Explore the Donner Memorial Tunnels! These historic former railroad tunnels are so unique to wander through (and also a tad creepy at times–it can get super dark!). The tunnels were built in 1867 and were used by trains until 1993, when they rerouted the tracks. You can now wander through many of the tunnels, but make sure to bring a flashlight to help you see! To get a good idea of where to go to see the tunnels, check out this blog, which helped will help you a ton.

If you want to relax for a bit, head to Donner Lake! While Donner Lake is much smaller than Lake Tahoe, it is surrounded by beautiful trees and mountains. West End Beach is a good spot to hang out or get on the water. While you’re by the lake, visit Donner Memorial State Park to learn more history about the Donner Party. Wander around the cute Old West town of Truckee. The buildings are beautiful and there are a ton of cute boutiques and shops to explore as well as old fashion ice cream and sweet shops, bars and restaurants. There is something for everyone.

End your Tahoe adventures with dinner in Truckee. A couple good spots to check out: Old Town Tap and Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats.

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